BOSTON -- Rangers reliever Neal Cotts had an honest rebuttal for those debating whether David Ortiz's game-winning home run was fair or foul.
"A better pitch and he wouldn't have hit it so far," Cotts said.
Manager Ron Washington had a sharp rebuttal when asked if some subtle mistakes earlier in the game might have cost the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park.
"At the end, we had the lead," Washington said. "All of that didn't matter. We didn't shut it down. You can nitpick at any game."
There was nothing subtle about Ortiz's game-winning blast as he crushed a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Red Sox to a 4-2 victory over the Rangers. Ortiz had five strikeouts and one walk in six previous plate appearances against Cotts.
"I felt comfortable with Neal up there against him," Washington said. "David won. It was the right decision. David won. There's no more explanation than that."
The Rangers led, 2-1, going into the bottom of the inning and were six outs away from gaining a split of their six-game road trip to St. Petersburg and Boston.
"It's real disheartening," Cotts said. "We fought our tails off to get the lead. To come out there and blow it for the team, that's what stinks. Everybody played well, pitched well, except the guy you are talking to."
The Rangers had taken the lead in the top of the eighth after Elvis Andrus led off with a double against Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller. Prince Fielder moved him to third while grounding out up the middle and Alex Rios, batting in the cleanup spot, brought him home with a sacrifice fly to center.
"A tough loss, but we battled to the end," Andrus said. "Ortiz is one of the best and most clutch hitters in history. There is nothing you can do, David did his magic."
Alexi Ogando started the eighth having retired five straight batters -- four on strikeouts -- since taking over from Robbie Ross Jr. with one out in the sixth. But he started by walking Jackie Bradley Jr., the Red Sox's No. 9 hitter. It was the third straight walk for Bradley.
Pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski blooped a single to right, moving Bradley to second. After Grady Sizemore pinch-ran for Pierzynski, Dustin Pedroia hit a hard grounder to Andrus' right at shortstop. Andrus got there, but bobbled the ball momentarily and could only get the force at second rather than a double play.
"You want to turn a double play in every situation, but that gave me a funny hop on the last hop," Andrus said. "I wanted to make sure we got at least one."
With runners at the corners, Washington brought in Cotts to face Ortiz. Cotts got a called strike with a slider and then missed with one. So he tried a fastball inside and Ortiz hit it high and deep down the right-field line.
"I threw a fastball decently in, it was just down," Cotts said. "That's not a good place to throw it with him. I wanted it more in on his hands."
Cotts struck out Ortiz in the eighth inning Tuesday night.
"He's a guy, his ball moves hard away, late, against lefties especially," Ortiz said. "I had an at-bat the other day … this is a guy you get to see once in a while. But that at-bat I had against him the other night helped me out to make some adjustments today. It worked."
The only question was if it would be fair or foul. First-base umpire Jerry Meals said fair. Washington asked for a review and got one, but the call stood.
"I thought it was foul…I wanted it to be foul," first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "But the umpire on the line had the best view. It was a tough game. Both teams played hard, the pitching was great. It came down to the last few innings. It's never fun to lose like that, but it's going to happen."
Ross allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings. He gave up just two hits, but walked six and cost himself an unearned run with a throwing error in the third.
"He was erratic," Washington said. "His command was a little off, but he held us in the ballgame."
Texas trailed, 1-0, going into the seventh before Moreland tied it with a leadoff home run off Boston starter Jake Peavy. The Rangers had just five hits on the day and were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Three of those at-bats came in the first after Shin-Soo Choo led off with a double. But Choo's baserunning judgment didn't help matters. Andrus followed the double with a weak grounder to first baseman Mike Napoli. Choo should have advanced to third, but didn't go. He ended up getting stranded when Fielder grounded out and, after Rios walked, Moreland struck out.
"I saw the first baseman playing shallow," Choo said. "It was not a perfect read. I didn't get a good jump and I didn't want to get thrown out with the No. 3 and No. 4 hitter coming up."
Choo also got picked off first base by catcher David Ross in the third after drawing a one-out walk. That was another of the subtle mistakes that seemed to come back to bite the Rangers along with the throwing error, missed double play and walks to the No. 9 hitter. But Ortiz had the big one that changed everything and Washington wasn't interested in analyzing anything else.
"We got us a lead, we just couldn't hold it," Washington said.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.